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Green Spark Group on-set consulting
We got our start consulting on productions—working with producers and training crew across departments to make a difference on the ground. The foundation of our work is to help productions reduce the impact they have on the environment, build a healthier creative climate, and engage positively with the communities in which they film.
Green Spark Group (GSG) approaches on-set consulting holistically—we believe that everyone plays a role in a sustainable production, and we work to collaborate on practical solutions. We intend to transform culture in the motion picture industry, which requires engaging individuals at all levels of production. We aim to strike a balance between making it easy to be green and pushing the industry to adapt to a new normal of sustainable production.
We train and assist crews across departments to understand solutions available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and overall impact, and feel empowered to implement achievable sustainable production practices. Key to this effort is enabling productions to track their efforts, practices, and contributions.
In our process, we value input and open communication, and respect individual crew members as experts in their departments. We listen to ideas from the crew and incorporate initiatives that they would like to see. By enabling productions to identify additional sustainability related challenges, some of which may be unique to them, we tailor our work to individual production needs, and then extend it other productions as we learn from our collective mindset.
Our goals when working on set:
Reduce carbon emissions, waste, and fuel consumption
Use cleaner energy sources
Seek supply chain improvements and reliable green vendors
Innovate and collaborate with crew on solutions
Build knowledge and capacity on-set
Measure performance with data analysis and reporting
Sustainable Development Goals
Working within frameworks such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) helps us strategize with productions on which areas of impact they should focus their efforts. Productions we work with typically contribute to the following SDGs:
We were excited to be a part of Season 11 of The X-Files going green! Fox worked with Green Spark Group to develop and execute a sustainability plan which led to 68% of waste diverted from the landfill, 19 metric tons of carbon emissions avoided, and saved nearly $150,000 in the process. The production also introduced a new food donation program that distributed more than 2,500 meals to those in need in the Vancouver area and has already encouraged other film and TV projects in the region to adopt similar programs.
Sometimes it’s not all about the score.
This 2018 Super Bowl took huge strides in making one of the biggest events in America environmentally sustainable.
This year’s Super Bowl debuted a collaborative effort called Rush2Recycle that targeted zero waste at US Bank Stadium in Minnesota. NFL, PepsiCo, Aramark, US Bank Stadium, and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority hoped to recover at least 90% of the waste generated on gameday.
Now the results are in, and the program successfully recovered 91% of all the trash. Nearly 63 tons of the 69 tons of gameday waste were recovered through recycling or donation for reuse (62%) and composting (29), according to the NFL.
In order to reach the 91% recovery rate, the partners took these steps before the Super Bowl:
- US Bank Stadium food and beverage partner Aramark replaced most of its food vessels, service products and utensils inventory for fans with compostable alternatives
- US Bank Stadium worked with Recycle Across America to design illustrated signs for new three-bin waste stations to show fans how to sort items at the stadium
- Recycling and compost bins were changed to become larger and more accessible to fans
- Trash bins were shrunk in size, encouraging fans to consider using alternative containers
- A LEED-certification-level waste audit last October identified materials for recovery in the stadium’s waste stream
- A zero-waste trial run took place at a December 2017 Minnesota Vikings home game
Steps that were taken after the Super Bowl included:
- The SMG team sorted all fan-generated waste into the right waste compactors
- The waste hauling partners collected and provided weight-tickets at each destination, including the recycling facility, the composting facility, and the waste-to-energy facility
- The waste data was reviewed by SMG and combined with the reuse and donation data collected by the NFL from their community partners
“Most stadiums won’t try and do this when they’re first built,” Bradley Vogel, the US Bank Stadium’s sustainability coordinator, told CNN earlier this month. “They just want to get the operations down… they want to make sure they get the food out before they worry about what happens on the back end.” He added that Pepsi’s involvement in the program and Aramark’s investment in compostable cups and food items were key to putting the zero-waste plan in place.
Michael Vekich, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which owns US Bank Stadium, echoed that in a statement today. “We couldn’t have gotten here without the commitment of our stadium partners,” he said. “We look forward to sharing our experiences with other facilities who are interested in this important sustainability program.”
What is a Sustainable Production Anyway?
The motion picture industry goes through great lengths to provide the public with an incredible cinematic experience. The process of making a film or television show also requires an incredible amount of materials and resources.
Everything from the costumes, props, and sets you see on the screen to feeding staff, transportation, lighting, and power has an impact on the environment. The motion picture industry is historically notorious for its use of resources and adding tonnes of waste to local landfills annually. This not done with the intent on harming the environment but is an unfortunate bi-product of the creative process to produce entertainment for audiences around the globe.
A production refers to the organization and operations that exist to produce a film or tv show.
Here’s where sustainability comes in.
Recently as the we become more aware of human impact on the environment, industries are beginning to look at their processes to strategize on how to reduce their impact on the environment. This includes the motion picture and entertainment industry.
Carbon Footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which were induced by your activities in a given time frame
Sustainable production means a production that implements identified best practices within their creative process to reduce their overall carbon footprint. This can also be referred to as “greening a production”. Zena Harris, the President of Green Spark Group identifies sustainable production as “incorporating practices into the production process that reduce negative environmental impacts, engage positively with the community, and align with the overall production budget.”
Sustainability is a concept that takes into account social, environmental and economic responsibility. It's the ability of an organization to manage transparently its responsibilities for social well-being, environmental stewardship, and economic prosperity over the long term.
Okay, so now that we have an idea on what sustainable production means how can a film or tv show become a sustainable production?
There are a few ways to achieve this! Many resources that are available (and sometimes free!) exist out there such as the Green Production Guide . These resources tackle sustainability by providing education to crews, directors, and producers and delivering tool kits on types of practices to implement while creating a film or tv show. These tool kits generally include a tracking system such as a carbon calculator.
You can also hire sustainable production professionals who are committed to reducing the motion picture industry’s carbon footprint such as the sustainable consultants at Green Spark Group. These professionals provide insight and expertise on what actions a production can take to best reduce its impact on the environment. They also come with a network of industry partners who are engaged in achieving sustainable production practices via food donation, material reuse, waste sorting and recycling and more.
In conclusion there is no one metric that defines a sustainable production. There are organizations out there such as the Environmental Media Association and NYC Film Green who third party entities that attribute scores and points based on best practices achieved by a production. When productions achieve a certain benchmark, they are eligible for recognition by these organizations.
Best practices are steps a production can take that have been identified as reducing environmental impact and carbon foot print.
But being sustainable can mean anything a production can do to reduce its waste, use of resources, and impact. In time, Green Spark Group envisions seeing sustainable production becoming the new norm for how we produce movies and tv for audiences around the world.
Topics included Policy, Collaboration, Power, Next Generation, and round tables with major film studios and filmmakers. Representatives from Fox and Warner Brothers provided insight on tools their studio productions utilize to achieve sustainability while on set and other panelists spoke to other tools being utilized around the world such as Eco Prod.
Some key themes that were underlined throughout the day were the importance of alignment and effective collaboration on a global scale to achieve sustainability throughout the entire motion picture industry. Communication is paramount in achieving this goal with several groups already working in consortiums, however, it was identified that more outreach to stakeholders like Universities and schools is an area for improvement.
The forum also highlighted the launch of Creative BC’s Reel Green Program and Strategic Plan for sustainability within the BC film industry. The Reel Green program is “prioritizing education, engagement, communications and resources as [they] develop a platform for the reduction of environmental impacts and stakeholder engagement at the local level to set an example for other jurisdictions globally.” This is a huge leap for sustainable production in Canada and BC is excited to be leading the way.
Jeremy Mathieu, Albert International Manager for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts took the stage at multiple panels to discuss their Albert tool and its place in creating industry wide alignment for sustainable production. Creative BC’s Reel Green Program will be adapting the Albert tool for productions in British Columbia as part of their Strategic Plan.
Overall, the forum was a huge success with passionate conversations and dialogue about how to green the industry and the way forward for everyone. We look forward to next year and to build upon these conversations that improve sustainable production practices globally.
Photo Credits: Vancouver International Film Festival